CDU to choose new party leader

Merkel’s Successor Moves to Consolidate Party Power		JOHN MACDOUGALL  AFP  Getty Images8 Dec 2018

Merkel’s Successor Moves to Consolidate Party Power JOHN MACDOUGALL AFP Getty Images8 Dec 2018

German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel gives a speech during a party congress of Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party on December 7, 2018 in Hamburg, Germany.

All the same, Merkel, a physicist, was fighting back tears when she gave a final speech as party leader, drawing a almost 10-minute standing ovation. Kramp-Karrenbauer is 56 and Merz 63, only a year younger than the chancellor.

Peter Sparding, a fellow with the Germany-based German Marshall Fund, told Newsweek the new CDU leader is likely to push the ruling party rightward.

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer's chief rival in Friday's CDU vote is millionaire corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz.

In 2002, Merz lost to Merkel too.

The atmosphere at the party conference today was buzzing and electrified around the leadership vote- it was the first time delegates had gotten to chose their leader in years. He wants tax cuts, a stronger European Union and a more robust approach to challenging the far-right. "This Europe, this Germany, this world needs a strong CDU".

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Bringing back those voters might be tough considering, to a large extent, Kramp-Karrenbauer represents continuity.

"I have read a lot about what I am and who I am: "mini", a copy, simply "more of the same".

"You always stand on the shoulders of your predecessor", AKK told German TV last month.

She described herself as a mother of three "who knows herself how hard it is to reconcile family and professional life" and listed her long experience in regional government.

She reminded the CDU of other electoral successes last year, avoiding mention of this year's setbacks in state elections, which were heavy blows for her. In February, she gave up the governor's job to become the CDU's general secretary, managing the party's day-to-day political strategy. "She has led us for many years in government and that is the goal of a party", said Julia Kloeckner, a deputy party leader.

Merz, 63, who lost out to Merkel in a power struggle in 2002 and is returning to politics after a decade in business, is backed by CDU members exhausted of Merkel's consensual politics.

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It also, of course, provides Dr Merkel with a useful shield against a political coup - by laying out the path to succession on her own terms years in advance, she spikes the guns of any would-be challengers from the right of the party, who have grown increasingly frustrated at her losing ground to the populist-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

In Friday's vote, he was backed by CDU members exhausted of Merkel's consensual politics, including party veteran Wolfgang Schaeuble.

A staunch Catholic, Kramp-Karrenbauer has spoken out in favour of a ban on doctors who carry out abortions being able to advertise their services, after a court case propelled the topic into the headlines, and is also openly sceptical about the "marriage for all" law campaigned for by her opponent, Jens Spahn, who is married to his male partner.

Harvard President Larry Bacow described Merkel as "one of the most widely admired and broadly influential statespeople of our time", adding that she "continues to play a central role in confronting some of the great challenges of our era".

Merkel listed some of those moments and many more in a half-hour farewell speech as leader, telling delegates that 'our CDU today is different from the year 2000, and that is a good thing'. In the 2013 election, they won 41.5 percent of the vote and only just fell short of an outright parliamentary majority.

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